Millions of people worldwide suffer from some form of diabetes due to heightened blood sugar levels. Diabetics need to monitor their diets or inject themselves with insulin to prevent the blood sugar from either going too high or too low to dangerous levels.
Now, researchers in South Korea have come up with a soft and flexible contact lens that might soon allow people with diabetes to keep track of their glucose levels, Tech Times reports. The lens measures blood sugar levels in a wearer’s tears using a built-in wireless sensor. This contact lens is meant to be placed only on one eye.
But one of the primary drawbacks to using smart contact lenses is the wearability of such products. Jihun Park, from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, who developed the lens for diabetics, said that what makes their device different from other smart lenses is that this does not use brittle materials that can block a wearer’s field of vision and possibly damage the eye.
The key difference is the soft lens with stretchable electronics and displays. This soft contact lens is stretchable and can be turned over.
The contact lens has a special sensor with electrodes that are made up of stretchable, transparent components. An embedded wireless antenna attached to the sensor lets the wearer transmit their health data in order for monitoring to take place in real time.
In addition, the wireless display has an LED pixel that turns off as soon as the sensor detects that glucose levels in tears are above the set standards. The study said, “This soft, smart contact lens can be transparent, providing a clear view by matching the refractive indices of its locally patterned areas.”
So far, the contact lens has only been tested on live rabbits, and none have shown an adverse reaction. Park and the rest of the team are hopeful that the device will become commercially available in less than five years.
The study was published in Science Advances.